Category Archives: Reflections

It’s generally mothers who teach their daughters how to cook – and in doing so strongly influence their eating patterns, even as adults


A qualitative study led by CREDOC in March 2004, on 26 mother-daughter duos, confirms that the majority of the time, mothers are the ones who introduce their daughters to cooking and to flavours. What’s less intuitive, however, is that these initial basics in cooking will form the dietary habits of girls during their lifetime: lots will continue to feed and cook “like mum”, even after they’ve left the family home…

The first thing the study shows is that while mothers introduce their daughters to cooking, the process of transmitting information is rarely conscious: mothers don’t ”teach” their daughters to cook, instead they make dishes in front of them and allow them to stir a mixture, add spices, etc. While mothers themselves had to help out during their childhood, especially in large families, they haven’t imposed this on their daughters, for whom learning about cooking is done as they go along and not through voluntarist teaching. It’s by watching and imitating that young girls take their first steps in cooking: “With my kids, I did the same as my mum did with me: I didn’t ask them to help, they just got involved if they wanted to,” tells one of the girls.

Domestic home help services, a precious aid for women


Used more and more by active women to avoid being overwhelmed with household chores, domestic home help services are an excellent way of offloading certain obligations… for a relatively inexpensive price.

Particularly interesting from a financial point of view due to the tax relief that home help services benefit from, they are being resorted to more and more by young active families, mainly when the mother goes back to work while her child is still young.

How do women recruit their employee?

According to a CREDOC study from 2008, the majority of families choose their domestic help based on feeling. Their recruitment criteria are generally quite vague, revolving more around the person’s interpersonal qualities and the first impressions they give, rather than their specific skills (the majority of employers admit to not knowing the level of education of their employee!). Entrusting one’s house or child to somebody requires total trust, and that’s the criteria that dominates the most: 98% have complete trust in their employee and 35% even consider them to be a friend or member of the family. In fact, two-thirds of the time, employees remain with the same family for at least two years.

It’s mostly women who are in charge of recruiting people thanks to word-of-mouth: they follow the advice of friends or acquaintances who have already made use of domestic help services. Women also handle the “social” aspects (daily instructions, conversations, etc.), whereas men generally handle administrative aspects (writing up the contract, preparing payslips, etc).

Reading, an illustration of the feminisation of cultural practices


For a long time dismissed from the scholarly world of books – it took them 350 years to enter the Academié Française, as Laure Adler and Stéphane Bollmann remind us in Les femmes qui lisent sont dangereuses (« Women who read are dangerous« ) – women have largely made up for their setback: today, they read on average 5 books more than men each year, and represent 53% of the market for novels.

Reading has become more and more of a feminine affair over the last thirty years: while essays, comics, science fiction and detective stories are by and large read by men, almost all of the other categories of books are bought by women as a majority. There are fewer women who never read, and amongst the French people who claim to read regularly, women read more books than men (INSEE 2005 <http://www.insee.fr/en/ffc/docs_ffc/ref/fhparit08h.pdf> ), all socio-professional categories and ages combined.

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American mums are short on friends


After the birth of their children, women tend to go out less and dedicate less time to each other. Focus on the family unit is to the detriment of relations with friends. According to a study led by CafeMom, mums claim that while they know a lot of people, they rarely have true friends… which they miss enormously.

On average, mums have two true friends, and 30% think that none of the people they know can be considered as a friend. These relations are therefore superficial, involving people with whom they share some nice moments but whom they don’t feel they could rely on in times of crisis.

While they converse a lot with neighbours (particularly mums whose children go to the same school), these relationships are not considered to be very close for two-thirds of them. Moreover, 32% never speak to their neighbours.
The concept of « local community », with solidarity and mutual aid amongst neighbours, isn’t a reality for them: « You shouldn’t believe what you see on Desperate Housewives, I’ve never been greeted with muffins when moving to a new area! » says one young mum ironically.

Wearing perfume, an almost sacred beauty ritual


The majority of women put perfume on every day, so much so that 143,000 bottles of perfume are sold every day in France (source: Planetoscope). And what might seem like a simple beauty step has a much deeper cultural dimension in reality…

The use of perfume goes back to antiquity when it was used in religious rituals (as offerings to gods, for embalming bodies amongst the Egyptians). Perfume was therefore originally associated with sacredness. Today still, this theme can be found in many adverts: perfume is seen as a mysterious essence because it’s invisible yet extremely powerful, almost magical.

It was during the Renaissance that it started to be used in a similar way to its current use: perfume and glove-makers made scented gloves for aristocratic women, designed to enchant men who followed in their footsteps. It was only in the 19th century that the atomizer was invented and women started to disperse their perfume on the hottest parts of their body (nape of the neck, wrists) to better activate the particles.

CafeMom website creates an indicator of mums’ quality of life


CafeMom’s indicator came into being because of an observation: as mums are generally the bond that cements family relations, their mood greatly influences the overall frame of mind of the household.
This is why, in summer 2010, the site decided to create the MomIndex, a bi-annual index that measures the quality of life of American mums.

The aim of this new type of index was to show that mums’ satisfaction in life doesn’t just depend on their level of education or their salary, but on human factors above all else. CafeMom identified 5 major themes that influence mums’ wellbeing: themselves, their children, their relationships, their financial situation, and the world in which they live.

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Beauty and sensuality are significant assets in the job market


For some decades, studies have shown that people who are considered to be physically beautiful are at an advantage in a number of areas, both private and professional. Three recent books confirm this trend by showing that beauty has become a major factor in building a career… but they disagree about the measures to take to wipe out this discrimination.

Source : The Economist.

Beauty facilitates life: this isn’t a dubious statement but a postulate that has been scientifically proven on several occasions. Since 1974, Mr Efran showed in his study « The effect of physical appearance on the judgment of guilt, interpersonal attraction, and severity of recommended punishment in a simulated jury task » that ugly-looking defendants are more severely punished during a trial than those who are considered beautiful. Likewise, attractive-looking people are more likely to gain a place in a queue, benefit from help when they need it, etc.

In the professional field as well, the influence of physical appearance has been recognised for several decades. In 1981, Mr Solomon showed, with supporting experiences, that job applicants’ clothes were often a decisive factor in recruitment (“Dress for success: Clothing Appropriateness and the Efficacy of Role Behavior”).

Why do brands need media muses?


“In reality, women are more ‘real,’ and not as perfect as Adriana Karembeu. People need reality, they need truth.” These are the words of Nicolas Chomette, head of Black & Gold, a design and strategy company. He adds, “Sometimes we wonder whether the use of muses simply hides a brand’s lack of imagination, and perhaps even their laziness. Have they run out of ideas?” (1) Some brands, like Dove in 2012, have chosen to use consumers as muses. Is it due to a lack of imagination or a way to increase sales? Why do brands use muses?

Are women fighting against stereotypes or internalising them? (1/2)


In society, when we talk about « equality » between men and women, we often think about salaries, careers, or who does the household chores. We don’t however talk so much about equality amongst children when it comes to play, cultural activities and sports. However, the way that children are educated has a lot of influence on the way that gender representations are passed on. Such is evident in the latest film by Guillaume Gallienne « Les Garçons et Guillaume à table! » In cinemas 20th November 2013.

Since female emancipation, people, and women in particular, have continued to fight the injustices of gender relations.

However, stereotypes still exist in society, and are ingrained from a very young age. How can this be explained? This question was asked in a survey conducted in October 2013 on 1284 women by Womenology for aufeminin.com. (1) What kind of stereotypes still exist in family education? Do mums educate girls and boys in the same way? Why do boys rarely play with dolls?

Why do we still see sexism in advertising?


According to a survey published by Mediaprism in November 2012 for the Laboratoire de l’égalité (equality laboratory), 56% of women and 34% of men feel they come into contact with sexist behaviour on a daily basis. (1) How can we explain this persistence of gender stereotypes? Who can be held responsible? What measures should be taken to fight against sexism? How can we make both the public and brands aware of the issues caused by stereotypes?

The media world receives sexism accusations

The majority of participants in this study believe the media are particularly responsible for the persistence of stereotypes. In fact 67% of them are in favour of a watchdog committee who would be responsible for ensuring that television ads do not reflect gender stereotypes. Nearly 8 out of 10 participants also believe that both public and private television should join the fight against stereotypes.